Park Geun-hye removed from office, election likely in early May

Cheryl Sanders
March 11, 2017

Park, who had been sworn in as the country's first female president in February 2013, was dishonorably forced to leave her office and became the first elected leader to be ousted, with her five-year presidency unfinished.

Two people died during protests that followed the court ruling.

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) urged Park to declare that she will accept whatever outcome for the sake of national unity, reflecting political opinion outside of the conservative ruling camp.

Police and hospital officials said about 30 protesters and police officers were injured in the violent clashes near the court, which prompted Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, the country's acting head of state, to plead for peace and urge Park's angry supporters to move on.

The court's decision has initiated a snap election which has to take place within 60 days, with May 9 cited as the likely date.

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The court's proceedings were televised live as the verdict was pronounced.

"The (former) president has been in a state of shock, and it appears that she needs time to come to terms with what has happened to her", an aide told Yonhap News Agency over the phone, declining to be named.

He called on Park Geun-hye's supporters and opponents to put aside their differences to prevent deeper division.

She is accused of improper connections to South Korea's biggest company, Samsung, whose chief, Lee Jae-yong, has been detained on charges of bribing Park's close confidante Choi Soon-sil.

She has already been named a criminal suspect, accused of bribery for offering policy favours to firms that benefited Choi. Park had immunity from prosecution while she was in office, but has lost that now that she has been removed from the presidency. Moon Jae-in, liberal and leader of the Democratic Party, is now ahead in the polls.

In a statement detailing the findings of its investigation, the special prosecutor's office said the National Pension Service voted in favor of a merger of two Samsung Group affiliates in 2015, despite anticipating a $158 million loss.

And so now South Korea is in a bit of a pickle. Anti-Park protesters celebrated by marching in the streets near the presidential Blue House, carrying flags, signs and an effigy of Park dressed in prison clothes and tied up with rope.

4 Nov, 2016: Ms Park makes her second televised apology, saying she would take responsibility if found guilty.

Other reports by iNewsToday